Baladeva’s alarm clock went off at 1:00 A.M.,
and our cowbells followed.
He administered my wake-up rituals.
I walked into the room
where the Deities are and bowed down.
I applied my precautionary measures
and began japa.
I kept my eyes open and
didn’t do constant darsana, but
glanced at the arca-vigrahas.
I practiced “just hear”.
This is the method where
you just chant and hear with
with no other meditation.
There are higher stages of perfection
in japa, but “just hear” is elevated
in itself. I am capable
of doing it, and satisfied
to execute it. Anyone
who realizes that the Name
is non-different than Krishna Himself,
and who absorbs himself in the
transcendental sound vibration,
is achieving a rare stage of japa.
After four rounds, I met my quota
with time to spare.
Then I turned to writing
in my Japa Report.
Although I began the second set
silently in the mind, I heard
the Names clearly, attentively,
and with concern to pronounce
the words properly.
(When I say I “heard” the Name
while chanting silently, I mean
the mantras resound in
my mind as good as vocal chanting.)
But I was distracted by planning ahead
what to write in the next Japa Report.
I was committing aparadha:
inattention to the Name.
So my chanting was faulty.
But the maha-mantra is so
merciful and powerful that it
vanquishes sinful reactions,
ushers in liberation,
and brings one gradually to love of God.
Even when chanted with imperfections
as I was doing.
I met my quota after eight rounds
with minutes to spare.
I began the third set
trying to avoid merely mechanical chanting
by cultivating thoughtfulness and
devotional feelings. For
thoughtfulness, I adhered to
“just hear.” This enabled me
to say the mantras individually
and separately, without
mixing or missing them.
I kept externally attentive,
but I didn’t enter prayerful nama
or call out to Krishna
for His blessing. (Without
this, it is not possible
for me to do good japa
on my own endeavor.)
For devotional feelings,
I looked at the arca-vigrahas, who
are sweetness personified.
I acknowledged that Radha-Govinda
are the heart of the Hare Krishna mantra,
composed exclusively of Their names
and uttered as a prayer
for engagement in Their service.
I finished my twelfth round
meeting the quota
with minutes to spare.
In the fourth set, I made speed
the priority over quality.
I kept the mantras
separate and coherent,
but moved as fast as possible.
I was falling behind and
it looked like I wouldn’t
meet the quota in
the allotted time. In fact,
I finished fifteen minutes late.
I considered it a half-decent session.
Especially on the fourth set, there
was too much racing.
For the entire session,
I experienced no physical pain.
At least I follow the process
of doing a prescribed number of rounds
in obedience to the order
of the spiritual master,
a sacred vow.